Ken Blackwell is Senior Fellow, Family Empowerment at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Townhall.com, October 23, 2013.
Mikey Weinstein heads up an outfit called Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which might be shortened to Murfs. These atheizers are not to be confused with those cuddly Smurfs. The little blue cartoon character Smurfs all wear Phrygian caps-a symbol of freedom. No, Murfs take it on themselves to smother religious freedom.
Mikey and the Murfs are bragging about their latest score. It took just 68 minutes for the Murfs to pull down a poster at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Why? Because the poster promoted the honor system and said-"So help me God." Well, Murfs can't stand any mention of You Know Who, so Mikey swung into action and demanded the offending poster be pulled down.
It took just 68 minutes for the Air Force brass at Colorado Springs to surrender to the Murfs. This is too bad. I recall that Fort Sumter held out for 34 hours in Charleston harbor in 1861. And the Alamo held out longer than that.
Let's see: Why is that phrase so offensive? George Washington was a pretty successful general. And he took the oath as our first President in New York City on April 30, 1789.
When Chancellor Livingston swore Washington in as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, Washington added four words to the Constitutionally prescribed oath:
So Help Me God
Question for Mikey and Murfs: If George Washington could add those four words, and if every President since could add those four words, why should they offend an Air Force Academy cadet?
No one is required to recite those four words. We have a constitutional provision, an important one, that says no religious test shall ever be required. Any cadet-or President, for that matter-is free to say: I do so swear (or affirm). Atheists--those who do not believe in God--have every civil right all Americans do. No one should be forced to affirm a belief they do not hold. Atheizers, however, are different. Atheizers are those who run around trying to ban all references to God in American public life.
In forcing atheism on the military, however, Mikey and Murfs are creating their own religious test. Atheizers are militant and active. They are trying to create what the late Richard Neuhaus called "a naked public square." They claim they want "religious neutrality," but what they seek is nothing less than a No-God Zone. That is enforced atheism.
The atheizers probably don't like the induction ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy, either. Here's a recent example of the 1,200 entering Plebes who take their oath to protect the Constitution. It is a very moving scene. Parents are often in tears as they see their sons and daughters pledge to defend this nation and its Constitution, "So help me God."
We can joke about the absurdity of Mikey and the Murfs, but it is no laughing matter when top military officers cower before this small group of militants. Atheizers cannot win elections in America, but they can make a lot of noise.
Back in 1969, atheizers raised a ruckus about the Apollo 8 astronauts reading from the Book of Genesis as they circled the Moon. They were the first Americans to reach the Moon. NASA, even then, was frightened by this small, noisy crew. NASA told the Apollo XI astronauts-those intrepid young Americans who would become the first men to walk on the Moon-not to say anything religious.
So when the Eagle landed on the lunar surface, and as Neil Armstrong prepared to step out, his seatmate Buzz Aldrin did something quiet and determined. He celebrated communion with his Presbyterian congregation in Houston. It was a wonderful moment.
It deserves to be remembered.
Nor are all such observances in our distant past. President Barack Obama looked out at the millions of people who had come to witness his historic Inauguration in 2009. Billions more watched around the world. Like his forty-two predecessors, Mr. Obama swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. And, like every one of his predecessors, beginning with Washington, he added those four words:
So Help Me God
It's time for our military brass to show some courage and to tell Mikey and the Murfs to back off. These atheizers have no right to extinguish religious freedom for the rest of us.